138 episodes

Food is part of our traditions and cultures, and it affects our health, our economy and all of our communities. So, Florida Foodie is giving you some food for thought, taking a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impacts on Florida and what it means for everyone, everywhere.

Florida Foodie Florida Podcast Network

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 9 Ratings

Food is part of our traditions and cultures, and it affects our health, our economy and all of our communities. So, Florida Foodie is giving you some food for thought, taking a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impacts on Florida and what it means for everyone, everywhere.

    Greenery Creamery, Sampaguita help people create core memories through ice cream

    Greenery Creamery, Sampaguita help people create core memories through ice cream

    Marie Mercado had no plans of becoming a “professional ice cream lady.” She had her sights set on the stage.
    “I wanted to be an opera singer,” Mercado said. “I did perform. I did shows in New York. I moved to Japan, I did a couple of performances there. I was there for a year and then I was going to move to Germany, but then I’m like, ‘OK, let me pay down some student loans. Let me figure out my life, get everything settled, get everything squared away before I move.’”
    That decision brought the South Florida native to Orlando. Mercado said she met her partner in the City Beautiful, who introduced her to the idea of running her own business.
    “When you’re a musician you work 90% of your time alone, right, actually. So I like the idea of building my own community,” she said.
    Mercado looked to her childhood when she decided to start her own business. Growing up in South Florida, she said her neighbors would give her family a glut of mangos every year.
    “My dad one day was like, ‘Hey, why don’t we turn this into ice cream so we can enjoy this for a couple more months instead of trying to eat this all in one day,’” she said.
    Mercado said she was always dabbling in the kitchen as a child, so her parents thought making ice cream would be a perfect fit for her.
    “I started my career as an ice cream lady at 7 years old,” she said.
    This ultimately led her to open the Greenery Creamery in downtown Orlando in 2018.
    “I consider myself a professional ice cream lady and I have a very important job,” she said. “I have to provide ice cream options for people in the community.”
    Mercado takes the job seriously. She tries to make sure that everyone can have something in her ice cream shops — offering vegan and allergen-friendly options.
    “People don’t realize consciously that ice cream is a way to create core memories. So people don’t think ‘Oh, it’s baby’s first steak.’ They think, ‘Baby’s first ice cream,’” she said.
    Greenery Creamery offers a wide variety of flavors, some familiar and some that are a little more outside the box of traditional ice cream. In 2023, Mercado took her passion for ice cream in a different direction. She opened Sampaguita in Orlando’s Mills 50 District.
    “I say Greenery Creamery is a journey of self-expression and Sampaguita to is an exploration of self-identity,” Mercado said.
    Sampaguita is focused on offering Filipino-American-inspired flavors, a nod to Mercado’s Filipino-American heritage.
    Sampaguita is the Filipino name for the Jasmine flower, which is also the national flower of the Philippines.
    “Jasmine flower means love and purity, guidance and truth and so it just has so many layers to it. So I said, ‘Yes, this is the name that fits everything,’” Mercado said.
    On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Mercado shares more of her journey from opera to ice cream. She also talks about some of her experiments with ice cream flavors and shares some frozen treats with Candace Campos.
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    • 25 min
    Caribbean Moonshine delivers tropical flavors with an eye towards history

    Caribbean Moonshine delivers tropical flavors with an eye towards history

    Mike Webber and Steve Nichols did not originally plan on becoming moonshiners.
    The pair saw it as an opportunity when Florida decided to relax some of its craft distilling laws.
    “Florida changed their craft distilling laws in 2020 and relaxed them a little bit more in 2022 to match those of Tennessee,” Webber said. “Today, there’s a very popular 13 Moonshine craft distilleries in a five-mile stretch in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. In 2002, there were none. (Tennessee) changed (its) craft distilling laws to allow craft distilling in a public place like Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet Mall, just like Florida did, and we wanted to be on the front end of telling the story.”
    The pair decided to call the business Caribbean Moonshine as a nod to history.
    “Moonshining was actually born in the Caribbean and was way popular for centuries before it was ever done up in the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky,” Webber said.
    Of course, the pair had a lot to learn before they could set up shop. They managed to find an expert from Tennessee to teach them the trade.
    “Steve had a friend that introduced us to a shiner up in Tennessee called Shine Girl. Her name is Danielle Parton. She’s actually Dolly Parton’s niece,” Webber said.
    That was their foot in the door. The pair wanted to take the process back to its roots, using cane sugar in the fermenting process.
    “We use Florida cane sugar, and we distill that to 185 proof,” Webber said. “Then we go to a distillery that has access to the Zephyrhills Springs in New Port Richey, and we blend our 185 proof with Zephyrhills Spring water, which is smooth and ultra-purified, we’ll add more Florida cane sugar in the flavoring to flavor it.”
    The flavors are nods to the Caribbean and Florida, including banana, coconut, marmalade and peanut butter and chocolate, which is their No. 1 seller.
    Caribbean Moonshine opened its doors in the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet Mall, right in the heart of Orange County’s tourist district. This has allowed them to have people from all over the world taste their product.
    “A lady come in and she says I’m from Barbados, and I want to try the rum,” Nichols said. “So she tried our flavor. She said, ‘This is amazing.’ She called her husband over. Well, her husband’s a rap artist named Etcetera and he come over after a long day at Disney with the kids and he was tired. He didn’t want to move but he did and when he come over here, he was blown away. So much so that he invited Mike and me out to the Grammys for the release of his album, Sagittarius.”
    On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Webber and Nichols share more of their story about opening their distillery. They also talk about tours of the distillery and mixology classes offered there, along with some of the products they still have in the works.
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    • 18 min
    Melao Bakery went from struggling business to must-stop destination

    Melao Bakery went from struggling business to must-stop destination

    Edward Colón has been working in his parent’s business, Melao Bakery, since they first opened it in 2008, shortly after moving to Kissimmee from Puerto Rico.
    “The first years, we slept inside the store,” Colón said. “We had those foldable beds. We folded the beds, we put them in storage and we opened up.”
    Colón was in his teens at the time and his younger brother had just been born, adding to the challenge of churning out authentic Puerto Rican cuisine daily.
    “I did a lot of (making) bread while I was trying to finish school and college,” he said. “So I was making bread and I would go to college and then come back and forth. So it was not easy.”
    The family started renting a small building on a quiet road in Kissimmee.
    “We struggled,” Colón said. “There was no Spanish places around at that point — not like now, obviously. We knew we had a great product at that point, So, we took the risk.”
    The gamble ended up paying off for the family. They now own the building they first opened in and have a second just outside of Orlando. The family also employs more than 150 people.
    Despite the success they have seen, the family still puts many hours on the business.
    “I work basically seven days a week,” Colón said. We work around the clock. It’s an everyday thing. I got employees that come in at three in the morning. And I have employees that get out at (midnight).”
    That dedication has turned Melao Bakery into a destination spot within the Kissimmee community.
    “Most people come straight from the airport,” Colón said. “People get there and get to eat every type of food that you find in Puerto Rico.”
    Colón said the goal was always to give people a feel and taste of the island territory, but making it accessible to everyone.
    “We don’t just have Puerto Rican clients, obviously, we have all kinds of clients — specifically in the Kissimmee store,” he said.
    The bakery is located just outside of Heritage Park. Many people stop by after various activities at the park or the Silver Spurs arena.
    The family is now looking to expand their business and get their products into more places.
    “We’re working on mass production,” Colón said. “We’re growing our kitchen area, and our bakery area — everything’s, gonna be double of what it was.”
    He added that the family wants to make sure they can maintain the same quality as they increase the quantity of their product.
    On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Colón shares more of his family’s story and the challenges they faced. He also gave Lisa Bell a sample of some of the delicious food available at Melao Bakery.
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    • 26 min
    Caribe Royal Orlando looks to offer something for everyone’s dining preferences

    Caribe Royal Orlando looks to offer something for everyone’s dining preferences

    David Hackett has spent most of his professional career working in resorts across the country and around the world, but he said Caribe Royal Orlando is his “home.”
    “I’m staying there. I mean, I love the property. I love the culture that we have there,” he said.
    Hackett has been at the boutique resort for about four years now. Before that, he had done stints at resorts such as the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Trump National Doral in Miami and even spent a few years working at a resort in Dubai, among other locations. In all, Hackett said he has been an executive chef at various resorts for about 25 years.
    Of course, his culinary career started well before that.
    “I started the business when I was 12 — at a ripe young age just by pure accident,” he said.
    His brother was supposed to go into a restaurant for a job interview, but couldn’t make it due to a broken ankle. So his mom offered up his services instead.
    “I went and washed bar glasses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at the age of 12. You know, shagging ice and booze and things like that,” Hackett said.
    Despite his early exposure, Hackett said he really wanted to be an architect when he was younger.
    “Then I realized, ‘Wow, food as so many different mediums besides pen and paper. Why not go be a chef?” he said.
    His first exposure to working at a resort was at Walt Disney World.
    “Disney was — it was a great opportunity for me especially to open MGM Studios,” Hackett said. “When I got there in ‘88, Disney was strong in their culinary program.”
    The “great opportunity” led Hackett down a path that eventually led to Caribe Royal.
    As the executive chef of Caribe Royal, Hackett is in charge of eight different dining options at the resort, including a brand-new, two-story sports bar, Stadium Club. Hackett said he tries to make sure each dining option is unique.
    “We don’t like menu bleed. So granted a burger we have to have in a couple different areas,” he said. “But it’s all about what’s on the burger.”
    Hackett said he prefers to buy his ingredients from Central Florida farmers and producers whenever possible.
    “I think great food comes with a great start — a great product to work with — then we do minimal to it,” he said. “I think a lot of chefs have lost their way where they’re trying to do so much to food. I think that food needs to speak for itself, you know, salt and pepper, basic preparation to kind of bring you back to how we all grew up.”
    On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Hackett shares some of the challenges of managing all of the venues at the resort. He also shares more of his travels in the industry, as well as a bounty of food for Candace Campos and Lisa Bell to sample.
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    • 30 min
    Orange Blossom Candies & Cream embraces small-town charm

    Orange Blossom Candies & Cream embraces small-town charm

    Tina Aldrich is a Florida native who chose to live in Montverde and open her business there because she knew it would keep its small-town charm.
    “When our daughter went to college, we went ahead and moved to our cabin in North Carolina,” she said. “Then when we moved back, I’m like, ‘I want to move back to a place where the footprint will not change,’ and this little burb is not going to change. It’s going to change all around us and has — I mean Hancock (Road) was not even a road when we moved up to North Carolina, you know? So that’s what made us decide to come back here to Montverde.”
    Before moving back from North Carolina, Aldrich had the opportunity to work in a fudge and candy shop, learning the ins and outs of the business. She admits it was not a great passion of hers, but when she moved back to Montverde she noticed something was missing in the community.
    “I’m like, ‘The only thing we don’t have is sweets. We don’t have sweets. So let’s do ice cream and candy — that’d be fun,’” she said.
    This revelation led her to open Orange Blossom Candies & Cream. Though she was a novice to the candy business, Aldrich had run other businesses in the past including a long-time florist shop in Winter Garden.
    “I am just an entrepreneur, and obviously my personality is kind of very outgoing and so I just I don’t like to give up,” she said.
    As it turned out, she would need that stick-to-it-iveness as she wound up having to open her business right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    “Anybody who’s ever started a business knows that you don’t, you don’t start the business two weeks before you open. It’s like months before,” Aldrich said. “So once you’re already doing that, and then the pandemic hits, you’re like, ‘Huh, you know, what? Worst (thing) that happens is that window is going to become a new window where I can serve out of the window and all of this that won’t last forever and at some point, we will open’ but we never did have to do that. We were able to put our lines and everybody wore masks, and we got through it.”
    Now, roughly four years later, her business is a thriving community staple. The shop is near Montverde Academy and has become a lunch hot spot for the student there.
    “So the kids coming in her always like ‘Miss Tina, Miss Tina,’ (and) everybody gives me hugs,” Aldrich said.
    On the latest Florida Foodie, Aldrich shares what it was like for her growing up in Florida and growing her family in Montverde. She also shares some of her confections with Candace Campos and Lisa Bell.
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    • 21 min
    Willie’s Bar-B-Que brings people from all over to a small Florida town

    Willie’s Bar-B-Que brings people from all over to a small Florida town

    Willie’s Bar-B-Que has only been a part of Montverde for six years, but it has become a fixture in the small community.
    Willie Fulmore and his daughter, Tomeka Fulmore-Smith, have spent their lives working with food. Willie Fulmore opened his barbecue restaurant nearly 30 years ago, first setting up shop in Winter Garden.
    “When I was stationed in Leesburg and there was a gentleman on Pine Street (with a business) by the name of Jim’s Barbecue Place and every weekend, everybody at the facility would go there and I would go there,” Willie Fulmore said. “So I said, ‘You know, that would be a neat little business,’ because he was open two days a week. I said, ‘Can’t get any better than that. A guy can work two days a week and he can make a living.’”
    At that time, he and his daughter worked as food safety inspectors for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Willie Fulmore worked with factories dealing in processed foods while his daughter worked with commodities and fresh produce.
    He opened his restaurant, having people help him run it.
    “I would get promoted on the job and then I would lease it out to a group of people and then they wouldn’t do so well and I’d have to come back and get it boosted up again,” he said.
    That pattern persisted until he and Tomeka Fulmore-Smith both retired allowing them to run the business together.
    The pair sold their property in Winter Garden to Matthew’s Hope and moved the business to Montverde about six years ago.
    “I love Montverde. I call Montverde ‘Mayberry,’” Willie Fulmore said. “It’s a quiet, cool little place. I like Montverde. It fits me.”
    “They’ve been very welcoming. The community is absolutely amazing,” Tomeka Fulmore-Smith added. “It’s such a beautiful, beautiful community.”
    Willie Fulmore brings a lot of expertise to his craft. He grew up in South Carolina, where his family regularly barbecued. He also made friend’s with the owner of Jim’s Barbecue Place.
    “I went and I worked free the whole summer for the guy, you know, as a friend,” he said. “So he kind of showed me a lot of tips and I what I learned from my dad and the other guys — I put it all together.”
    Those tips have paid off. The father-daughter duo said they have had people coming from miles for their food.
    There have been quite a few people who love taking road trips, and they would literally travel just to try barbecue,” Tomeka Fulmore-Smith said. “We’ve had people come up (from South Florida). They drove up for the day — ‘Yeah, we’re from Miami. We heard about you, we read your reviews.’”
    Willie Fulmore believes the restaurant only being open two days a week adds to the hype.
    “People always want what they can’t get enough of,” he said.
    Though he likes to brag about only working two days a week, Willie Fulmore is a busy guy. He is also a minister and works with the homeless.
    “I preach at the men’s homeless shelter. I’ve been doing that for the last 12, 15 years and I’m really involved with that,” he said.
    On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, the pair share their entire menu with Candace Campos and Lisa Bell. Willie Fulmore also shares what sets his barbecue apart and why it takes some special skill.
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    • 24 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

iPyro>:3 ,

Love this podcast! Such intelligent interviews!

The best food podcast in Central Florida!

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